Death by Birkenstock

It’s been cold and rainy today and my old hip injury has been acting up.  I didn’t get it in some exotic way such as saving a toddler from an on-coming train, or even by something as mundane as picking up the newspaper the wrong way. 

No, I went all out for this one.  Almost fifteen years ago I fell down the steps of our deck in the rain. 

The culprits responsible for my tumble?  My Birkenstock clogs. 

I had become a fan of Birkenstocks when my step-daughter moved in with us shortly after my Current Husband and I were married.  She had been living in the Santa Cruz area of California and was your typical crunchy-Granola, vegetarian teen from that part of the state.  The kids at her new school called her “Nature Girl.”  She introduced me to this decidedly ugly but comfortable brand of footwear and I fell in love with the way they felt and even, paradoxically, with their ugliness. 

You know how some things can be so “out” that they’re actually “in”?  It was kind of that way with Birkenstocks.  So ugly they were cool.

The Birkenstock clogs of this tale were my second pair and by the time this accident took place they had been a part of my wardrobe at least a decade or more.  These things never die, but they can certainly be the cause of the death of their owner.

Granted, mine were so worn and battered that I mainly used them in lieu of house slippers.  The rubber soles had eroded down to the cork insole on the heels and therein lies the rub—or the drubbing, in my case.  Little did I know I was wearing a couple of potential booby traps on my tootsies.

I had gone out on our front deck to let our little ungrateful dogs outside for their nightly “taking care of business” before retiring for the night.  Since it had been raining, I stood on the wet deck at the top of the stairs waiting for them to finish their interminable sniffing and lollygagging.  (How is that dogs can pee in the same spot for ten years but they have to sniff and sniff to be sure that this, indeed, is the place to go?)

Unthinkingly, I shifted my weight onto my left leg and immediately my foot shot out from under me.  Remember that exposed cork sole?  It appears that when it gets wet it becomes as slick as if it had been slathered with Astro Glide. 

Since my foot was headed downhill fast, naturally the rest of me had to follow suit.  I hit the first step with all my weight and caught it diagonally across my left buttock, just above the sacrum (look it up).  Then I bounced down to the next one and caught it between the vertebrae in the middle of my back.  There was another bounce but I’m not sure just where, by that time, I received this blow.  I remember saying out loud “Ow, ow, ow,” so I know there were three involved.

I finally came to a stop on the concrete pad at the bottom of the steps.  I was lying spread-eagle on my back, gazing up at the stars and wondering if I was paralyzed for life.  My little dogs stood over me with quizzical looks as if to say, “Now, why did you want to do that?”

I picked myself up and crawled back up the steps, grateful that my legs were working well enough to accomplish that task.  After getting back inside, I had to go up some more (!) stairs to the bathroom where my husband was blithely brushing his teeth, unaware of the drama that had just unfolded below.

In great detail I painfully told him what had happened.  His comment was:

 “I heard something, but I just thought you’d dropped some books.” 

Scavenging hordes of Barbarians and Mongols could ride into the living room and ravage me and he would think I had the t.v. up too loud.

The Birkenstocks were summarily disposed of that night.  (My husband had been warning me for months that there would be dire consequences to my “eroding soles”, but I optimistically chose to pooh-pooh him.  My bad.)

My back side was a symphony of purples, magentas, blacks, blues and yellows for over a month.  There is a permanent deep dent in my left cheek from that first step (watch out for it—it’s a doozy!) and I have sciatic pain in my left hip and leg as a result of the blow to my sacrum.  (If you didn’t look it up, it’s the area just above the tailbone at the base of the spine.) 

Rainy weather and the concomitant drop in barometric pressure usually cause these old wounds to hurt.  That and the couch at my daughter’s when I have to stay the night to babysit like I did this week.  Kind of like trying to sleep on a medieval rack, or Uncle Fester’s bed of nails.

I still have a fond spot in my heart for Birkenstocks, though.  But I’d have to have a hole in my head if I ever bought another pair.

Unless they were really cool….


Art on the Laundry Room Door


I love French advertising posters, and the art of T. Steinlen in particular.  I did this painting (with apologies to Steinlen) on the door leading out of the laundry room in the little 1870’s limestone house where we lived here in Texas until a year ago.  This is an ad for the Clinique Cheron veterinary hospital.  The really funny thing is after I did the painting, we had cats come into our lives that looked just like the ones pictured here.  Coincidence?  I think not. 

This painting was done with craft paint and took me the better part of a month because the light was only good for about four hours a day in that room.  Artificial light just made it too glary to work.  (Is glary even a word?)  I liked this ad because we have practically run our own veterinary hospital over the years, what with all the stray dogs and cats we’ve taken in.  At one point we had seven dogs and one cat.  Now we have six cats and one dog.  Go figure….